The NFL offseason is a time for teams to improve their rosters and look toward contending. In order to do that, sometimes a new identity is necessary. Here are six teams who have a new identity heading into the 2020 season.
With the 2020 NFL Draft in the books, rosters now have a different look to them all across the league. Some might have shifted more than others, however, especially ones with a new quarterback and/or head coach. Those teams now have a new identity attached to them, so let’s look at six whose identities changed the most in the past few weeks.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
This is the most obvious one, as the Bucs went from a bit of an irrelevant team to now having a Hall of Fame quarterback and his favorite tight end on the roster. As a result of Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski joining the Bucs, their Super Bowl odds have jumped and rightfully so.
For the past five years, the Bucs were Jameis Winston‘s team and no one really knew what that entailed. They almost made the playoffs in 2016 and fizzled in the following years, paving the way to Brady coming to town and Winston being an afterthought.
The Bucs will be one of the most interesting teams to watch this year because of their two new additions, but their defense was pretty good last year, at least against the run. Seeing them square off twice against the Saints should be fun and this will most definitely be an entirely different Tampa Bay Bucs squad.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
If the Bucs were an obvious one, then the Patriots are just as obvious. After being Brady’s team for two decades, the Patriots are beginning a new era and it looks to be the Jarrett Stidham era.
Bill Belichick is still the head coach in Foxborough, which is why anyone is giving them any sort of shot at being relevant in 2020, but make no mistake: The Patriots are going to be a very different team in 2020.
For 20 years, opponents knew that if Brady had the ball in the final minutes of the game, the Patriots had a very high chance of winning that game. That same kind of fear won’t be instilled in opponents with Stidham under center now. Maybe Stidham will be great, but in the small sample size we saw of him in 2019, that doesn’t seem likely.
As is the theme with the other two teams listed so far, the Panthers will have a new quarterback in 2020 and his name is Teddy Bridgewater. That led to Cam Newton being released and with Luke Kuechley retiring and Greg Olsen in Seattle along with the hiring of head coach Matt Rhule, it truly feels like a rebuild in Carolina.
Bridgewater was solid in his five starts with the Saints and Christian McCaffrey is returning in 2020, but a new quarterback plus a new coach moving forward most definitely means we’ll be seeing an entirely new Panthers team in the coming years.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
For the first time since 2005, Philip Rivers won’t be the starting quarterback for the Chargers organization. It’ll be weird, but he’s off to Indianapolis and Tyrod Taylor is supposedly the man under center for the Bolts until Justin Herbert is ready to roll.
Eventually it’ll be Herbert’s team, but even now, it’s still a new identity for the Chargers, who for years have had Rivers as their face of the franchise. They’ll still be a good defensive team (or should be anyway), but any time a team has a new signal caller brings a new identity for that team.
Taylor has been a respectable backup, but he won’t be the long-term option for LA, so the Chargers will have yet another identity when Herbert takes over.
You’re probably noticing a trend here and that’s that these teams have either a new quarterback or a new head coach (or in the case of the Panthers – both). The Redskins fired Jay Gruden last season and are now moving full speed ahead with River Boat Ron Rivera. This was a great hire by the organization, as Rivera helped lead the Panthers to a Super Bowl in the 2015 season.
Washington has been a mess for awhile now, but Rivera is someone who could help turn things around there, especially on the defensive side of the ball. The Redskins have some great playmakers on defense and Dwayne Haskins will still be the starter on offense. If he has a great year, then it’ll be his team for years to come.
With how wide open the NFC East is on a yearly basis, the Redskins’ new head coach could help push them to the top of the division.
Unlike the other five teams on this list, the Broncos don’t have a new head coach or new quarterback. They’re still coached by Vic Fangio and quarterbacked by Drew Lock. The reason Denver lands on this list is because they made it clear in the 2020 NFL Draft that they’re trying to become the kind of offense that the Kansas City Chiefs have become the past two years.
The Broncos know that if they’re in a division with the Chiefs and therefore forced to play them twice a year, having a defense that can stop them isn’t the way to go, but rather attempting to go toe-to-toe with them on offense.
Defense won Denver their Super Bowl title in the 2015 season, but they made it known in the 2020 NFL Draft that they’re going to become an offensive team in 2020. They gave Lock all the tools he needs to succeed and if he doesn’t regress this season, the Broncos will most definitely have a new identity attached to them in 2020.
Typically a new identity is formed with a team if they get a new head coach or a new quarterback and that was mostly the case with these six teams. When it came to Denver, however, they changed from being more of a defensive-minded team into an offensive-minded team.
What other teams have a new identity heading into the 2020 season?